Nearly 300,000 DREAMers Have Been Granted Legal Status Since Last June

(Credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Since President Obama announced that his administration would stop the deportation proceedings of young immigrants between the ages of 16 and 31 through Deferred Action for Childhood Beneficiaries (DACA) in June 2012, nearly 300,000 applicants have been granted deferred action. Considered to be a “Dream Act lite,” DACA would grant a two-year work authorization to young immigrants, but unlike the Dream Act, DACA does not grant a pathway to citizenship.

On Friday, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) released the latest DACA statistics for April 2013. Overall, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has granted deferred action to 57 percent or 291,859 applicants of the 515,922 applications, which can be seen in the adapted chart:

(Credit: USCIS, adapted)

In the month of April alone, an additional 23,498 applicants have been approved for work authorization, up from March 2013. Applicants from Mexico still lead the top number of individuals applying for DACA, with Central American countries and South Korea trailing behind.

In recent letters sent to Congress, president of the ICE union Chris Crane stated that 99.5 percent of all DACA applications have been approved. In fact, 96 percent or 497,960 requests of applications have been accepted to move on to the “lockbox” stage in which applications are screened, processed, and decided upon. But these are separate from applicants who have been accepted and granted work authorization.

The economic benefits of legal status have been intensely studied by numerous bipartisan groups, most recently by Robert Lynch and Patrick Oakford of the Center of American Progress, which issued a report on the state-by-state breakdown of the positive economic benefits of 24 states in which 88 percent of undocumented immigrants reside.

The number of DACA applicants closely parallel the states that stand to gain the most from granting legal status to undocumented immigrants. Of the estimated 2.5 million undocumented immigrants in California, over 87,000 DACA applicants have been approved for work authorization and are presumably on their way to contributing to the $68 billion that all Californian state residents seeks to gain from legalization over a ten-year period. This deferral will allow young immigrants to boost their standard of living and also increase their tax contributions. If passed, the Senate immigration bill would allow the 2.1 million so-called DREAMers to contribute $329 billion to the economy, which includes the creation of 1.4 million jobs.